Carpe Diem Equestrian Training Philosophy – More Than Just Riding

philosophy header1The Fundamentals of Riding & the Body Awareness of Yoga

Carpe Diem Training is not a stable or a riding team, but rather a philosophy. It takes the body awareness and alignment that one develops practicing yoga and combines it with the fundamentals of riding, so a harmonious union between horse and rider is achieved.

As my riding and teaching ability developed, I began to feel like I was missing something. I found many of my students struggling to understand their own riding abilities. I decided to take a different approach and began to focus lessons on helping my student become more aware of their own bodies in order to better influence their horse.

I became interested in Yoga, and after taking classes as a student, I wanted to know more. I completed the 200-hour Teacher Training course in Vinyasa Flow Yoga through YogaOne Studio in Cedarburg, WI. This type of yoga focuses on breath work and yoga poses working together to create balance and harmony with one’s self. Becoming immersed in yoga teachings made me realize a correlation to riding.

The Sanskrit word YOGA literally means to unite … and this is what every rider wishes to achieve with their horse.  Yoga and riding both involve mind and body. It was this revelation that lead me to integrate basic yoga movements into my lessons. Carpe Diem Equestrian Training was born.”

This doesn’t mean I give yoga lessons on horseback. Far from it, I use the interconnected body awareness of yoga, and translate it to the rider-horse connection. Core strength, a basis for yoga, is also the basis for a strong riding foundation. I use visualization of body movements to correspond with riding aids, giving even beginner riders with only the most basic understanding of the aids the ability to easily understand how their physical strengths and weaknesses affect the horse’s ability to balance and build strength. Students are rewarded with breakthroughs in communication with their mounts, experiencing the joy and confidencea true partnership provides.

How does yoga translate to effective riding?

Awareness and Compassion: Classical horsemanship and traditional yoga are both ancient practices that teach through kindness, compassion, and awareness – body and horse

Knowledge and Growth: Endless knowledge through ongoing practice leads to a journey of self-discovery and growth

Breathing and Body Movement: Both integrate breathing and rhythm to bring about an awareness of body movement, so the rider becomes one with the horse

Mind and Body Engagement: Both practices explore physical and mental limitations and seek to overcome them

Strong Foundation: Promote correct training methods that build a strong foundation of focus, balance, flexibility to excel in both disciplines

Riders do not need to have a yoga background or any interest in pursuing it. I don’t speak in yoga terms during a lesson. I help each student understand their own body alignment and awareness in order to communicate better with their horse. I translate my theory into riding, using anatomy references to define how riding aids connect to rider to mount.

My riding and yoga journey have become one in the same.

It has been an honor to work with each of my students to help them discover a new connection between mind, body and horse.

Happy riding and Namaste,

Kelley Shetter-Ruiz